Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 NHL Free Agency: Predictions

First of all, welcome to July and one of the single biggest days on the NHL yearly calendar. And, of course, to our friendly neighbors to the north, Happy Canada Day.

On the most recent Sports With The StatMan show (#159) on Wednesday night, we went over the cap space and needs for the local teams:

BOS: A puck-moving defenseman to possibly replace Tomas Kaberle
NJD: Defense, defense, defense (they still need defense even if Adam Larsson makes the team in '11-12)
NYI: A top-four defenseman and a top-six forward
NYR: A playmaking centerman and an offensive defenseman
PHL: Find a center to offset losses of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards

It is about 12:00 on July 1st -- high noon -- as the General Managers and free agents start getting down to business. Some teams have to reach the floor (see: Islanders) and others have money to spend (see: Flyers, Rangers). Add to that a dearth of big names and lots of money will be spent on relatively few players. Also, as we discussed on Wednesday's show, we talked about the very real possibility of an offer sheet being sent to a restricted free agent this year. There has only been one successful poaching since the lockout, Dustin Penner in 2007, but Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Keith Yandle, and Andrew Ladd headline those RFAs.

On Wednesday's show, we discussed our unscientific ranking system. Yes, we could use fantasy points, and that will be the tiebreaker within tiers of free agents, but I arranged my rankings in tiers. Instead of calling these tiers by numbers, in the spirit of Hockey Christmas, we have assigned a present to each tier.

Top-Tier: Caribbean cruise (or a trip to '70s game show fave Beautiful Puerto Vallarta)
2nd Tier: Video game (such as NHL '12, with RFA Steven Stamkos on the cover)
3rd Tier: A new bike (who wouldn't want a new bike...that is, if you are under the age of 16)
4th Tier: A great book (perhaps The Rebel League by Ed Willes, which is a fantastic book)
5th Tier: Christmas CD (useless gift for the 330 days between Christmas Day and the next Christmas season)
6th Tier: Ugly sweater (Cosby sweaters may apply)
7th Tier: A year-long enrollment in the Jelly of the Month Club (it is a gift that keeps on giving the whole year)
8th Tier: School supplies (a few minutes late and likely many dollars short)
9th Tier: An array of meat snacks from Hickory Farms (tasty for about 5 minutes, forgotten in about 10 minutes)
10th Tier: Socks and/or underwear (should be renamed the Jon Sim Tier)

So, through that prism, here are the local teams' needs:
BOS: A new bike (puck-moving defenseman)
NJD: A new bike and a great book (defensemen)
NYI: Two great books (a top-four defenseman and a top-six forward)
NYR: A Caribbean cruise and a video game (playmaking center and offensive defenseman)
PHL: A new bike (a top-two center)

Caribbean Cruise tier: G Tomas Vokoun, F Brad Richards
Video Game tier: D Tomas Kaberle
New Bike tier: F Ville Leino, F Erik Cole, F Tomas Fleischmann
Great Book tier: F Teemu Selanne, F Matt D'Agostini, F Michael Ryder, F Simon Gagne, F Scottie Upshall, F Joel Ward, F Sean Bergenheim, D Ed Jovanovski, D Andy Greene
Christmas CD tier: D Anton Babchuk, F Radim Vrbata, F Andrew Brunette, D Ian White, F Michal Handzus, F Vinnie Prospal, F Ruslan Fedotenko, F Raffi Torres, D Jan Hejda, F Jamie Langenbrunner, D Sean O'Donnell, D Scott Hannan
Ugly Sweater tier (not a complete list): G Jose Theodore, G Brian Boucher, D Bryan McCabe, F Tim Connolly, F Sergei Samsonov, F Cory Stillman, F Christopher Higgins, F Jason Arnott, D Radek Martinek, F Max Talbot
Jelly of the Month Club tier (not a complete list): F Brendan Morrison, D Roman Hamrlik, G Peter Budaj, G Marty Turco, F John Madden, F Alexander Frolov, D David Hale, F Ben Eager, F Cody McCormick, F Brad Winchester
School Supplies tier (not a complete list): G Johan Hedberg, F Marty Reasoner, G Mathieu Garon, F Alex Kovalev, F Kyle Wellwood, D Karlis Skrastins, D Steve Eminger, F Zenon Konopka
Meat Snacks tier (not a complete list): G Curtis McElhinney, G Martin Gerber, F Eric Godard, F Cam Janssen
Socks/Underwear tier: G Nathan Lawson, F Todd White, G Patrick Lalime, F Mike Comrie

BOS: D Bryan McCabe
NJD: D Andy Greene*, D Anton Babchuk
NYI: F Joel Ward, D Radek Martinek*
NYR: F Brad Richards, D Tomas Kaberle
PHL: F Ville Leino*, F Eric Belanger
* - retained by their 2010-11 NHL club

Source for salary cap information:

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